Centennial Hills Park

Las Vegas, Nevada

The third phase of Centennial Hills Park is comprises a 30-acre portion of the overall 160-acre regional park campus located in the northwestern part of the City of Las Vegas. The design team created a park experience on a site that was quite challenging geographically, with its rolling terrain and large hills.  However, the design was developed using the topographic variations as an opportunity, not a constraint. The existing undulation and drainage characteristics were preserved and enhanced with native plantings. Large-scale, custom concrete replicas of indigenous animals flank both sides of each of the park’s entry drives.

The flattest areas of the site were designed as play areas, while a picturesque hillside area incorporates a 3,000-person amphitheater with a large shaded stage area. On the south face of this same hillside, a large children’s’ play area was strategically incorporated into the existing slope. The ingenuity of the design tucked the play area into the hillside, and used the topography to incorporate and accessible route that bridges over to the second level of the play elements. It was designed for 100% ADA accessibility for the entire play structure, accommodating children of all different physical capabilities and ages. It’s the only wheelchair accessible double-corkscrew slide in the valley. The retaining portion of the hillside was themed with custom concrete work to show replicated stratified earth with fault lines and geologic layers complete with fossils. The amenities at this activity-zone location include an interactive water-play system with safety surface. Connecting the park’s theme, smaller scale replicas of the concrete animals from the entry drives are included as play features; these include the rattlesnake, horned toads, chuckwalla lizard, and the desert tortoise.

Several different sizes of picnic shelters with custom concrete, striated columns were provided to accommodate a wide variety of users of this park – be it for lunch, study groups, or family outings. The park was also designed to facilitate hosting of the weekly Farmer’s Market.

The primary hill in the park is a unique geologic feature, known as an inverted river bed. The most iconic elements of the park call the top of this area home. As the patron walks up the meandering sidewalk leading to the top of the ridge they pass under a series of large arched gateways which read, “What if you lived 20,000 years ago?” This is the first clue as to the homage paid to the parks ancient past. While the lower portions of the park feature animals found in the area today, the top is a journey into history. This area features a towering life-sized silhouette of a Columbian Mammoth, a giant ground sloth, and pre-historic camel and bison. Each of these animals has interpretive boards providing more information about their life and ultimate demise. There are also interpretive boards along the path which tell the geologic history of the Las Vegas valley, including the geologic feature on which the park guests stand.

This park’s design has received many awards, including the City of Las Vegas Mayor’s Urban Design Award, and it has been recognized in national publications.

*Project was completed by Chris Langham while at another firm

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